In case he has not made it clear yet, C.J. McCollum really wants to make sure we know that he doesn’t like this whole “the Golden State Warriors keep getting excellent players” thing.
The Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard — who’s recently made headlines for lamenting the fact that DeMarcus Cousins chose to join the two-time-defending NBA champions for the taxpayer midlevel exception of $5.3 million, for discussing his disappointment in Cousins’ decision with Warriors star Kevin Durant on his podcast, and for stoking the flames thereafter by calling KD’s own move from Oklahoma City to the Bay “soft” on Twitter — said he was “done” talking about Durant and the Warriors after his last round of comments struck a chord last month. Evidently, that prohibition only extends to the borders of the United States of America, because McCollum didn’t seem particularly reluctant to offer his opinion on Golden State’s roster construction when asked about the Dubs in an interview during a promotional trip to China last month:
CJ McCollum went on @CCTV and said that star players joining the Warriors is 'disgusting' and 'I would never do that' 😂😂
— Dime on UPROXX (@DimeUPROXX) August 15, 2018
Some people said that, in the future, the Warriors would become a team that everybody, when he becomes free, he just wants to join them and [become] a champion, you know, [and then] go to another team. People have that kind of thought. What do you think?
McCollum: I would never do anything of that nature. I think that is disgusting. It’s disgusting.
“Disgusting!” I heard it! So it’s nothing — you would never do that.
McCollum: I’m not built like those guys. I was raised differently.
But do you think that would be the future for NBA players?
McCollum: No. I think some players will take that route. But most guys have too much pride, want to really win on their own, or in their certain organizations, that aren’t going to just jump the bandwagon.
McCollum is far from alone in his disdain for both the super-team era in general, and the Warriors’ dynastic version in particular.
Plenty of people, from casual fans to die-hards to media members to NBA players, coaches and executives, have said they find the sport’s current state — in which stars cluster together to form constellations in pursuit of championships — less exciting than ages when the sport’s best players stayed silo’ed in separate cities and tried to be the unrivaled alpha-dog elevating one-man-army rosters to the promised land. Others think the hemming and hawing about how the present-day Warriors came to be, and whether their continued existence (and attempts to dominate) should have the effect of essentially devaluing championships.
Some look at the Warriors and see the triumph of a sea change in athletes’ attitudes in which the elite have now chosen the path of least resistance rather than pursuing a more difficult, and therefore rewarding, road to glory. Others see a team built not solely by multiple immortals deciding to get together, but by an organization nailing multiple draft picks, getting an incredible break when the intriguing young point guard with the iffy ankles got healthy enough to develop into the most devastating shooter the sport’s ever seen, finding a way under the gun to clear gobs of salary to create room for the perfect Swiss Army Knife swingman when he decided he wanted to play with them, and then taking advantage of a literally unprecedented salary-cap spike that just so happened to come in a summer where an in-his-prime former league MVP was on the market.
If you’re in the former camp, even if you can grit your teeth and make your peace with a post-Achilles-rupture Cousins reportedly ringing up Warriors GM Bob Myers because no other team had made him an offer in the first two days of free agency, you’re never going to forgive Durant choosing to join the 73-win team to whom his Thunder had just blown a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference finals. If you’re in the latter, you might view the rending of garments over Golden State’s dynastic dominance — which, lest we forget, might have been one Chris Paul hamstring pull and one 27-brick cold snap away from not really existing — to be something of a blinders-on ahistorical approach, one that ignores the fact that five franchises (Celtics, Lakers, Warriors, Bulls, Spurs) have won nearly three-quarters of the NBA’s championships, with most coming thanks to the presence of multiple prime Hall of Fame players on those winning rosters. Your mileage, as always, may vary.
It’s not the clustering of talent that’s new; it’s who’s behind the clustering. Players who have spent their whole lives hearing barstool arguments about how Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and John Stockton can’t ever be considered the right kind of great because they never won a ring, and who have the option of deciding where and for what purpose they want to play, are making moves with that in mind. Durant made his choice, and he’s both reaped his reward and dealt with the fallout. The still-working-his-way-back-from-injury Cousins is already doing the latter, well before he’ll be able to take part in any spoils.
However things shake out, they and the rest of the Warriors will continue to face criticism from folks like McCollum, who feel like Golden State’s put a massive thumb on the scales of competitive balance in the league. In all likelihood, they’ll continue to respond just how Durant did on McCollum’s podcast when C.J. tried to make the case for the Blazers being “right there at the top of things” with Golden State in the Western Conference.
After his comments in China began making the rounds on Wednesday, McCollum took to Twitter to chastise those who’d suggest terms like “disgusting” and “I was raised differently” make him seem particularly hurt and sour …
Y’all stay bringing up old stuff. Yall got me out here looking like a bitter ex. 1 of the best teams ever assembled W/ 2 players you could argue are top 15 greatest to lace them up. 4 hall of famers w/ another one on the way. I’m happy stop making me look like a scorn man sheesh https://t.co/4xVYw5FDOv
… which is an especially bad look considering he’d figure to have plenty of issues to focus on in-house on a Blazers team coming off a dispiriting sweep at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans, that doesn’t appear to have made significant roster upgrades this summer, and that will have to fend off the likes of the LeBron-led Lakers and Nuggets for a playoff spot in the crowded West.
Im trying Jennifer
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) August 15, 2018
Is the middle of August too late to nominate an official song of the summer? Because “I’m Trying, Jennifer” feels like an incredibly strong contender.
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